Ham and Leek Tart

Ham and Leek Tart

One of my favourite things about cooking a large ham dinner is all of the leftovers. I think that I look forward to the leftover even more than the initial dinner and I always have fun trying new dishes using the ham. I recently came across the this recipe for a ham and leek tart on Picante Cooking and I immediately knew what I would be doing with some of the leftover ham in my freezer.

Ham and Leek Tart

This ham and leek tart is pretty simple and dead easy to make! It starts out with an all butter pie crust which you can easily make yourself or you could save some time by using a store bought one. Next up the ham and leeks are sauted, and mixed up with an egg, some cream, cheese and a touch of grainy mustard. After just 20 minutes in the oven the cheese is all melted and bubbling and golden brown and good. The ham and leek tart is amazingly tasty and all of the flavours work well together. I have to say that my tart disappeared way too quickly. :) I served the ham and leek tart with a simple arugula salad along with a glass of white wine.

Ham and Leek Tart

Ham and Leek Tart

(makes 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 butter pie crust
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup ham (diced)
1 tablespoon butter
2 leeks (trimmed, cleaned and white and light green parts sliced)
2 cloves garlic
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy/whipping cream (or sour cream)
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 1/2 cup swiss cheese (grated)

Directions:
1. Roll the pie dough out, fit it into the tart pan and trim the edges.
2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium.
3. Add the ham and saute until it starts to turn lightly golden brown, about 7-10 minutes and set aside.
4. Melt the butter in the same pan over medium heat.
5. Add the leeks and saute until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
6. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute and remove from heat.
7. Mix the egg, cream and mustard.
8. Mix the ham, leeks, the egg mixture and 1 cup of the cheese and pour it into the tart shell.
9. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
10. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese has melted an the pie shell is a light golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Wild Leek and Double Smoked Bacon Tart
Pear and Gorgonzola Tart
Ham and Bean Soup
Ham and Cheese Egg Casserole
Ham and Lentil Soup
Fiddlehead Tart

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto
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One of the ideas that I was contemplating for my Valentines day meal was a mushroom risotto and although I did not go with it, it has been stuck in my mind and I just had to make it. Risotto is an Italian rice dish that is cooked with ingredients and technique designed to produce an extremely creamy bowl of down right comfort food. Although the technique is not difficult, it does require some time as you add the liquids half a cup by half a cup while stirring constantly. This means that you are going to be at the stove actively doing something for about a half an hour, but the final result is so worth it. The very fact that this dish takes some effort makes it perfect for special occasions where you want to show that you care.

Risotto is primarily about the rice and to get that nice and creamy finish you want a higher starch rice. Medium and short grained rice generally have a higher starch content and some of the favoured rices include arborio and carnaroli. For this mushroom risotto I wanted to really enjoy the mushrooms so I started with some dried porcini mushrooms as dried mushrooms pack a ton of flavour. Next I sauteed some wild mushrooms including cremini, shiitake and oyster which I cut into large slices so that I would be able to enjoy their texture. Next up was a homemade chicken stock for even more flavour and the whole thing was finished off with some good quality parmigiano reggiano.

One thing that I did not mention yet is that the first liquid that you add to a risotto is an alcohol and it is commonly a wine. The wine can be white or red and it really just depends on the flavours in the risotto and your tastes. I figured that a nice bright and fruity chardonnay would go perfectly with the mushroom risotto to complement and cut through its creaminess. In my continuing effort to discover more about local wines I went with a chardonnay from here in Ontario that I found with the help of Wine Country Ontario. Once you have cracked open that bottle of wine for use in the risotto, the next half an hour while you are cooking and stirring the risotto is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a glass.

Mushroom Risotto

(makes 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup chicken stock (boiling)
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion (diced)
8 ounces mushrooms (sliced, I used a mix of cremini, shiitake and oyster)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable, warm)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)
1 handful parsley (optional)

Directions:
1. Cover the dried porcini mushrooms in the stock and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.
3. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Add the fresh mushrooms and saute until they turn tender and release their moisture, about 10-15 minutes.
5. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
6. By this time the dried mushrooms should be nice and soft so remove them from the stock, squeezing to drain and reserve all of the liquid.
7. Chop the reconstituted mushrooms and add them to the sauce pan.
8. Add the rice and toast until it starts to turn translucent, about 1-3 minutes.
9. Add the white wine, deglaze the bottom of the pan and cook while stirring until the wine has disappeared.
10. Mix the stock that the mushrooms were soaked in with another cup of stock and add it to the sauce pan 1/2 cup at a time while stirring until it has disappeared.
11. Add the butter and parmigiano reggiano and stir until it has melted.
12. Season with salt and pepper and a touch of truffle oil.
13. Serve garnished with parsley.

Similar Recipes:
Risotto
Asparagus Risotto Topped with a Poached Egg
Winter Squash Risotto
Pear and Gorgonzola Risotto
Creamy Roasted Mushroom and Brie Soup

Use leftovers in:
Arancini di Riso (Rice Balls)

Goes well with:
Double Smoked Bacon Wrapped Fillet Mignon

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Beans and rice is a classic combination with different versions showing up in various cuisines from around the world. One of my favourite versions at the moment is this Cajun style red beans and rice dish which is pure comfort food and it has been a perfect fit over the last few weeks with the continuing cold weather. Though you could easily keep this dish vegetarian, I could not resist adding some andouille sausage to make it even heartier and add some more flavour. Speaking of flavour, another great way to build some up is to add a ham hock to the pot while everything simmers. A ham hock is generally smoked and cured and it will add a ton of flavour to any dish that it is cooked in. The ham hock does contain meat and after all of the simmering is done you can pull it from the bone and add it to the dish that you cooked it in if you wish.

Fried Tuna Ball Po Boy

Fried Tuna Ball Po Boy

I have really been into the po'boy sandwich ever since I discovered them not too long ago. One of the things that I like about po'boy sandwich is that there are a lot of different ways of making them and my favourite up until now has been the spicy shrimp po'boy with remoulade sauce. I recently came across a new interpretation of the sandwich in the form of a fried tuna ball po'boy on Eatin' on the Cheap and I just had to try it! In essence this is just a simple tuna salad that is formed into a ball, fried until nice and golden brown and crispy and then thrown into a sandwich along with a tasty remoulade sauce. It is hard to go wrong with deep frying and these tuna balls are addictively good with their crispy outsides and their soft, warm and tasty insides. I finished the sandwiches off with some crisp and tangy homemade pickled green tomatoes. I now have a new favourite po'boy sandwich and I am already looking forward to making them again sometime soon!

English Muffins

English Muffins topped with Melted Butter and Marmalade

What better way to try out my new marmalade, than on some fresh homemade English muffins? I had been wanting to try making my own English muffins for a while and now was the perfect time! After looking at a few recipes I ended up going with Alton Brown's recipe for English muffins which sounded pretty straight forward. What struck me the most about English muffin recipes is that despite the fact that they use yeast as the leavening agent, they are like a batter and not a dough, not unlike a pancake batter. To prevent the batter from spreading out all over the place metal rings are placed in the pan and the batter is poured into them so that when they expend, they expand upwards in the circular shape.

English muffins are pretty easy to make and the rewards are well worth the effort to make them yourself! They end up nice and golden brown on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. When they are fresh from the pan and still warm it is really hard to resist cracking them open right away, topping them with butter and waiting for it to melt and get sucked into all of the nooks and crannies. Once the butter has melted, you add some marmalade and then its like having heaven for breakfast. When you first bite into it you get the slightly crisp outside along with the sweet and tart marmalade and then you hit the warm, soft and buttery inside which just dances in you mouth.

The English muffins will keep well in a sealed container for a few days. Although they are best just the way they are when they are first made, on the days following I like to toast the insides after slicing them open which adds a nice extra bit of crunch.

English Muffins

(makes 8 muffins)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter (melted)
1 cup hot water
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (1 envelope)
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
corn meal

Directions:
1. Combine the powdered milk, sugar, salt, butter and water and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
2. Combine the yeast, sugar and water in another bowl and let sit until frothy.
3. Combine the mixtures and mix in the flour.
4. Cover and let sit in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
5. Mix in the salt and baking soda.
6. Grease the insides of the 3 inch metal rings and place them on a pan heated to medium-low.
7. Sprinkle some cornmeal into each ring and then place 1/4 cup of the batter into each one.
8. Cover and cook until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes.
9. Sprinkle the tops with cornmeal, flip the rings using tongs and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 5-6 minutes.
10. Repeat until you have cooked them all.

Tips: You could use cookie cutters, tuna cans or mini spring form pans that are about 3 inches instead of getting dedicated English muffin rings.

Use in:
Breakfast Reuben Sandwich
Peameal Bacon and Kimchi Breakfast Muffin

Similar Recipes:
Dorayaki
Banana Pancakes

Marmalade

Marmalade

In amongst all of the oranges in the grocery store these days I noticed some new varieties that I had not come across before and I have been trying them out. One of the more interesting ones was the seville orange which was not what I was expecting when I cracked one open to eat along with breakfast; boy was it ever bitter! A quick search on the internet showed that the seville orange is indeed supposed to be bitter and that in fact it is prized for it and that bitterness makes it the perfect candidate for making marmalade. When I read that I knew what I would be doing with the rest of my bag of seville oranges; making marmalade.

Marmalade

After browsing a couple dozen recipes for marmalade I noticed that none of them called for pectin and since I had never made a jam or preserve without pectin, I was looking forward to making the marmalade. Citrus fruit has a lot of pectin naturally and it concentrates in the seeds. With this in mind, one of the critical aspects of marmalade recipes is to catch all of the seeds, pulp and extra bits and tie them up in a cheese cloth bag. This bag of seeds is then simmered with the peels so that the pectin is released into the marmalade to thicken it naturally. Another thing that I liked about the recipes for marmalade it that they are all pretty simple ingredient wise usually only containing the oranges, sugar and water with a lemon thrown in for good measure.

Marmalade

Other than a bit of juicing, scraping, slicing and simmering, the marmalade was pretty easy to make and once you get it to the simmering phase you can let it go for the most part, just stirring it every once in a while.

In the end I was quite pleased with the final results including the way that the marmalade thickened up despite the lack of extra pectin. The marmalade itself has a really nice sweetness with undertones of bitterness that balance things out and the the orange peel is perfectly tender. I am looking forward to trying the marmalade out on something!

Marmalade

(makes 4 cups)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 pound seville oranges, about 4 (washed)
1 lemon (washed)
4 cups water
4 cups sugar

Directions:
1. Cut the oranges and lemon in half cross wise.
2. Squeeze the juice and pits out through a mesh sieve collecting the juice in a large sauce pan.
3. Scrape all of the membranes and remaining pulp from the inside of the oranges. (For me it all came out easily leaving behind just the pith.)
4. Collect the pit, membranes and any pulp that came out and place it in a double layer of 8 inch square cheese cloth and tie it off.
5. Slice the orange and lemon peels into small thin pieces about 1/8 inch wide and no longer than an inch.
6. Bring the juice, water, peels and cheesecloth to a simmer over medium heat and cook, covered, until the peel gets tender, about 2 hours. Stir every 15 minutes, squeezing the juices from the cheesecloth when you do.
7. Remove the cheesecloth and squeeze out any liquid into the pot.
8. At this point you should have about 4 cups of liquid. Add more water if you have less and simmer to reduce if you have more.
9. Bring the liquid and sugar to a roiling boil until it thickens, about 10-15 minutes. To test, place a small spoonful on a plate that was in the freezer and run your finger through. If the path where your finger went through stays then it has set.
10. Pour into your jars leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top, seal, let cool and refrigerate.

Note: Since I do not have much room left in my pantry for more jars of preserves, I made a small batch and I plan on keeping them in my fridge over the next few months while I finish them. If you want to preserve some for a longer period of time or outside of a fridge you will have to use proper canning procedures. Sterilize the jars before filling them by boiling them in water for 10 minutes. After the jars are filled and sealed, cover them water and boil for 10 minutes.

Similar Recipes:
Candied Orange Peel
Strawberry Balsamic Jam
Mango and Cardamom Jam

Creamy Cabbage and Double Smoked Bacon Soup

Creamy Cabbage and Double Smoked Bacon Soup
With all of the freezing cold weather that we have been having over the last few weeks I have been in full on soup mode and I have been trying some new ones. By far my favourite so far is this soup from the description of one of the soups of the day at Porchetta & Co here in Toronto. The soup was described as containing cabbage, double smoked bacon, sausage and white beans and it was topped with a garnish of grainy mustard. I was immediately sold on the idea and I knew that I would have to try the soup! The only problem was that as a daily soup I could not count on it being there when I went so I decided to make it myself.

Candied Orange Peel

Candied Orange Peel

I garnished my orange chocolate mousse with candied orange peels and you know me, I could not resist making my own candied orange peels. As it turns out, candied orange peels are actually pretty easy to make. It is really just as simple as peeling some oranges, slicing the peels, simmering them in water and sugar until tender, tossing them in sugar and letting them dry. Before simmering the peels in the water and sugar you can boil them in water one or more times to help reduce the bitterness. The final step of drying the peels is going to take a day or two so you need to keep that in mind when making the candied orange peels.

Candied Orange Peel

For something that is so easy to make, these candied orange peels are addictively good! Candied orange peels are a citrus lovers heaven and you can candy pretty much any citrus fruits peel that you like. The crunchy sugary coating wraps around the soft, sweet pure orange flavour creating a pleasant contrast in texture. If you think that candied orange peels are good all by themselves, and they are, then you have to try dipping them into a melted dark chocolate coating. Chocolate and orange is one of those classic flavour combinations and this is one of the best examples of it that I have ever had!

Candied Orange Peel

Candied Orange Peel

(12+ servings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
3 oranges, navel work well
2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup sugar

Directions:
1. Cut the top and bottom from the orange.
2. Cut the peel each orange into 4 vertical pieces and remove from orange in one piece.
3. Cut the peel into thin strips.
4. Bring a pot of water to boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook the peels in boiling water for 15 minutes, drain and rinse.
5. Bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat in a sauce pan.
6. Add the peel, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the peels are tender, about 45 minutes.
7. Drain and toss the peels in the sugar. Note: You want to drain the orange peels well. If you just throw them straight from the syrup into the sugar, the sugar will clump up. (Tip: Save the syrup and use it in ice tea.)
8. Place the peels on a cooling rack and let them sit until the coating is dry, anywhere from 24-48 hours.

Use on:
Orange Chocolate Cream Cheese Mousse

Similar Recipes:
Orange Cookies Dipped in Chocolate
Marmalade

Orange Chocolate Mousse

Orange Chocolate Mousse

With the main course of my Valentines meal decided it was time to move on to dessert and I could not help but think of chocolate. There are a lot of amazing chocolate desserts to choose from but I had one in mind already. Not too long ago I had the pleasure of attending a Bloggers Round Table put on by the Dairy Farmers of Canada where they treated us to, among other things, a chocolate mousse. This mousse was of course made with dairy products in the form of cream cheese and whipping cream. I had always been a bit leery about making mousse because most recipes call for raw eggs but this sounded like a perfect alternative.

With grocery stores having been flooded with oranges of all types these last few weeks I have been thinking about ways to use them and since oranges and chocolate are such great friends, it seemed only natural to make an orange chocolate mousse. I added the orange flavour through the use of some orange zest and a splash of orange liqueur. I finished off the orange trinity with a topping of candied orange peels.

If you are a fan of velvety smooth, creamy and decadent chocolate mousse but you are not too thrilled with working with raw eggs then this is the recipe for you! This mousse achieves that texture by combining cream cheese for creaminess with whipped cream for that light and fluffy airiness. Not only is this mousse addictively good but it is also really easy to make, though you do need some chilling time so keep that in mind. If you are planning a big Valentines day meal then this dessert is also good because you can make it the day before and lighten the load on the big day. Now please excuse me while I get back to my chocolate mousse.

Orange Chocolate Cream Cheese Mousse

(makes 4 small but decadent servings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
8 ounces dark chocolate (cut into small pieces)
8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1 orange (zest)
1 cup whipping cream

Directions:
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and set aside.
2. Beat the cream cheese, chocolate, sugar, orange liqueur and orange zest until light and fluffy.
3. Beat the whipping cream until it forms soft peaks.
4. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese in two batches.
5. Pour the mixture into the containers that you will server it in and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.

Similar Recipes:
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Molten Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cheesecake
Yogurt Panna Cotta
No Bake Cheesecake
Orange Cookies Dipped in Chocolate
Mayan Orange Brownies

Double Smoked Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon with Caramelized Mushrooms

Double Smoked Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon with Caramelized Mushrooms topped with Blue Cheese

With Valentines Day just around the corner it was time to start coming up with a meal plan and to test it out ahead of time. You can do pretty much anything that you want for a Valentines Day dinner and I like to try to make it a little bit special whether by indulging on quality ingredients or even just by making a meal that takes a bit of extra effort. For some reason, while I was contemplating the menu, I kept coming back to the idea of steak and if I am going to do steak for a Valentines day dinner then it is going to be a nice cut of steak like a filet mignon.

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

With all of the grey and dreary days that we have been having lately I have been craving some comfort food and top on the list is spaghetti alla bolognese otherwise known simply as spaghetti. Spaghetti has been one of my favorite foods since I was a kid and it was one of the first recipes that I learned how to make for myself. Despite the long list of ingredients, this recipe is actually really easy, requiring very little actual hands on time. I do a couple of things differently in this recipe starting with the vegetables which I pulse in the food processor. I want the flavours and aromas that the onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms provide but I like the meat sauce to be about the meat and pulsing them in the food processor allows me to have them without changing the texture of the sauce. Up next, I add some pancetta which is just packed with flavour followed by a glass of red wine.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Nachos

Shrimp Nachos with Avocado Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Shrimp has been on my mind a lot recently and I had to include them in my Super Bowl Sunday snack lineup in one form or another. After contemplating it for a while I decided to go with shrimp nachos. The basic idea behind nachos is to pile tortilla chips on a plate, top them with things like meat, salsa, jalapenos, olives and cheese and then bake them until the cheese melts. I wanted to use whole shrimp to maximize the experience of their juicy and succulent nature and I did not want to chop them up. I was thinking that the full shrimp would not be clinging to the nachos all that well when randomly sprinkled on so I decided to go for individual serving nachos with one shrimp per tortillas chip. I was seeing these shrimp nachos as green so I wanted a salsa verde and I also had to include some avocado so I took the opportunity to combine the two and I made some avocado and roasted tomatillo salsa. Next up was some cilantro lime shrimp which were sprinkled with green onions, melted cheese and cilantro. These shrimp nachos were amazingly tasty and did they ever disappear quickly! I served them with the remaining avocado and roasted tomatillo salsa for dipping.

Shrimp Nachos with Avocado Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Nachos

(makes 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 tortilla chip for every shrimp
1 batch (2 cups) avocado and roasted tomatillo salsa
1/2 batch cilantro lime shrimp (see below)
2 green onions (sliced)
1 1/2 cups Monterrey jack cheese (grated)
1 handful cilantro (optional)

Directions:
1. Place a small spoonful of the avocado and tomatillo salsa on top each tortilla followed by one shrimp per tortilla chip.
2. Sprinkle the green onions over the tortillas followed by the cheese.
3. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese melts, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Serve immediately garnished with cilantro along with the remaining avocado and tomatillo salsa for dipping.

Note: If you cannot get fresh tomatillos for the ravocado and roasted tomatillo salsa you can use store bought salsa verde and simmer it a bit to reduce the water content and then mix in some mashed avocado.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp


Cilantro Lime Shrimp

These cilantro and lime shrimp are so easy and yet so tasty! The cilantro and lime combination is a good one and it works really well on shrimp. You can snack on these shrimp all by themselves or use them in things like shrimp tacos, shrimp quesadillas or shrimp nachos. In the summer they are great on the grill but there is no need to wait for summer as they also cook up really well on an indoor grill or even in a pan.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

(makes 2 servings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 pound shrimp (shelled and deveined)
2 limes (juice and zest)
1 tablespoon oil
1 jalapeno (finely diced)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 green onion (finely sliced)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon oil

Directions:
1. Marinate the shrimp in the lime, oil, jalapeno, garlic, green onion, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper for 30 minutes in a sealed container in the fridge.
2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
3. Add the shrimp and the marinade and cook until the shrimp is done, about 2-3 minutes per side. (The shrimp will have turned pink an no longer be translucent.)

Similar Recipes:
Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos with Roasted Corn Slaw and Roasted Jalapeno Crema
Chipotle Lime Grilled Shrimp and Corn Guacamole Mini Tostadas
Shrimp Tacos
Shrimp Quesadillas
Tequilla Lime Shrimp
Greek Nachos
Crispy Rolled Shrimp Tacos
Mini Pepper Nachos with Corn, Black Beans and Avocado
Chicken Pad Thai Nachos
Cilantro and Lime Salmon

Avocado and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Avocado and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

I have been crazy for roasted tomatillo salsa or salsa verde ever since I discovered tomatillos. A while ago I heard about a new take on the salsa, an avocado and roasted tomatillos salsa which sounded good and I have just been itching to try it ever since. With the avocados in the salsa it kind of sounded like a cross between the salsa verde and guacamole which is another dip that I am completely into. This recipe is pretty much as simple as taking the recipe for the roasted tomatillo salsa and adding some mashed avocado. For my particular use however I also wanted to try to reduce the amount of moisture in the salsa so I threw it into a sauce pan and simmered it to reduce the liquid a bit before adding the avocado, lemon juice and cilantro. The avocado worked quite well in the salsa verde mellowing out the spicy heat of the jalapeno pepper all the while adding an amazing creamy texture. This salsa would go great with tortilla chips for dipping and tomorrow I will use it in another tasty snack for Sundays big game.

Tip: Tomatillos freeze well so freeze some in the summer when they are in season.

Avocado and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

(makes 2 servings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 pound tomatillos (husks removed)
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 small onion (peeled and cut into large chunks)
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon oil
1 large avocado (stone removed, scooped from skin and mashed)
1 lime (juice and zest)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)

Directions:
1. Place the tomatillos and jalapeno pepper on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until the tomatillos and jalapenos are blackened all over, about 10 minutes per side.
2. Place the tomatillos, jalapeno pepper, onion and garlic into a food processor and puree. (Remove the charred outer skins first if you wish.)
3. (Optional) Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
4. (Optional) Add the the tomatillo salsa, season with salt and pepper and saute until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
5. (Optional) Remove from heat and let cool.
6. Mix in the mashed avocado, lime juice and cilantro.

Use in:
Shrimp Nachos
Corned Beef, Cabbage and Kimchi Burrito

Similar Recipes:
Salsa Verde
Guacamole
Pipian
Blue Cheese Guacamole
Tomatillo Pico de Gallo
Bacon Guacamole
Creamy Avocado Dressing

Greek 7 Layer Dip

Greek 7 Layer Dip

When I came across the idea of a Greek 7 layer dip on Our Best Bites recently, I knew that I would have to add it to my snacking mix for the big football game this year. I am a huge fan of both the classic Texmex 7 layer dip and of the Greek flavours going on in this dip. In fact this Greek version of the 7 layer dip reminded me of the Greek nachos that I make that are also a fusion of Greek and Texmex.

I started the dip out with the layer of freshly homemade hummus and then I went on to replace the cream cheese layer with a layer of tzatziki made with a thick and creamy 0%mf Greek yogurt. (I figured that I would be getting a lot of cream cheese in the other dips that I will be serving so I would keep this one nice and light and the tzatziki fits in with the Greek theme as well.) The next few layers are more of ingredients that are stacked on and they include some tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, kalamata olives, feta and a touch of mint as a garnish. I strongly associate oregano with Greek cuisine and I wanted to work some in so I mixed it into the tomato layer.

Although I was expecting this dip to be good with all of the great flavours in it, I was not expecting it to be as amazing as it was! I nearly devoured the entire batch in one sitting! The combination of the creamy hummus, the tart and garlicky tzatziki, the juicy tomatoes and crunch cucumbers, the salty olives and feta was simply fantastic! In addition to being one of the most addictive dips that I have had in a while, this dip is also pretty healthy, especially when served with toasted whole wheat pitas triangles for dipping. This dip is perfect for anyone looking for a healthier alternative for snacking at any party!

Greek 7 Layer Dip

(makes 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups hummus
1 cup tzatziki
1 cup tomato (diced and mixed with 1 tablesoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon oregano)
1/2 cup cucumber (cut into small pieces)
1/4 cup red onions (diced)
1/4 cup feta (crumbled)
1/4 cup kalamata olives (pitted and coarsely chopped)
1 handful mint (chopped)
4 whole wheat pitas (cut into triangles and toasted until just crispy)

Directions:
1. Assemble dip starting with the hummus and stacking each ingredient on top of the last.

Similar Recipes:
7 Layer Dip
Chipotle Tuna 7 Layer Dip
Greek Style Nachos
Greek Style Pulled Lamb Fries
Chicken Souvlaki Gyros

More snacks for the Super Bowl

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)
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With the Chinese new year in just a few days I thought that it was about time to practice my dumpling making skills. Jiaozi or Chinese dumplings, consist of a filling, generally a ground meat, that is wrapped in a thin wrapper and sealed by pressing the edges together or by crimping and they are commonly served with a dipping sauce. The dumplings can be cooked by frying them, steaming them or boiling them. Although steaming or boiling them is probably a little better for you, I prefer the fried version as the bottoms get nice and crispy and when they are fried they are often referred to as pot stickers. Dumplings are a popular New Years dish and since they are one of my favourite Chinese dishes it was the perfect excuse to make some at home.

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

There are near limitless fillings that you can place in dumplings but I was dead set of including shrimp in mine. I made sure to cut the shrimp very coarsely because I wanted to get large pieces of juicy shrimp in the dumplings. From there I filled out the dumplings with some fairly common ingredients including pork, cabbage, bamboo, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. For the dipping sauce I decided to go with a simple soy and vinegar sauce that I spiced up with a bit of chili oil and a birds eye chilies.

While I was investigating recipes I came across a recipe for Chinese dumplings on use real butter that included a recipe for making your own wrappers which I immediately decided to try. The dough was a little difficult to work with given that it was so dry but after adding a bit more water it worked out just fine. I was not very good at rolling the dough out into perfect circles but using a ramekin as an outline I was quickly able to trim them into nicer discs. Since I had already picked up some pre-made wrappers I made half with homemade and half with pre-made to compare them and I have to say that I definitely preferred the homemade version which were thicker chewier.

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

One caveat with this recipe is that it takes a bit of time to wrap all of those dumplings so you need to plan for it. If you are also making the wrappers then it takes even longer but it is definitely worth it!

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

(makes 60 dumplings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 1/4 cup water (warm)
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound shrimp (shelled, deviened and coarsely chopped)
2 large napa cabbage leaves (salted, drained, rinsed and finely diced)
2 green onions (finely sliced)
2 tablespoons bamboo shoot (finely diced)
2 tablespoons ginger (finely diced)
1 tablespoon garlic (finely diced)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:
1. Mix the flour and water in a food processor until incorporates.
2. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth.
3. Cover the dough with a damp cloth while you let it rest for 30 minutes.
4. Roll the dough into long cylinders about 1 1/2 inches thick and cut the cylinders into 1/2 inch pieces.
5. Flatted the pieces with the palm of your hand forming discs and then rolled them out to about 2 inch diameter.
6. Mix the pork, shrimp, cabbage, green onions, bamboo shoots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch.
7. Place a small spoonful of the filling in the center of the wrapper, fold the two sides over the center and pleat the edges to seal the filling in.

For fried:
8. Heat some oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add the dumplings and fry until their bottoms are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
9. Carefully add 1/2 cup of water, cover and steam until the water has disappeared, about 3-5 minutes.
10. Uncover had cook for another 2 minutes over medium low heat.

For steamed:
8. Place the dumplings on the well greased surface of the steamer, or on cabbage leaves and steam until cooked, about 6 minutes.

For boiled:
8. Boil the dumplings until they float to the surface, about 3-5 minutes.

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

Garlic Chili Sauce

(makes 1/4 cup)

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 birds eye chili (thinly sliced)
1 green onion (thinly sliced)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chili oil

Directions:
1. Mix everything.

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